Duties of an executor. What about a fugitive beneficiary?

The Daily Mail has reported (30th April and 7th May 2011) on the case of Ronnie Barker’s son, who was left over £2m in his mother’s will, but is in hiding having jumped bail seven years ago for alleged pornography offences. Should the executors pay out his inheritance if he comes forward?

In the extreme case of murder, a murderer cannot benefit under the will of his victim. But in this case there is no specific legal bar to receiving the money. However, any solicitor acting on behalf of the executors would be restricted by ethical and professional considerations. Furthermore anyone paying out large sums to someone who was on the run from the police would be liable to prosecution for aiding and abetting an absconder.

Although these circumstances are rare, it highlights the importance of using professional solicitors who can advise on such sensitive matters and perhaps liaise with the relevant authorities to find an acceptable outcome.